|Interfaith clergy marched in Charlottesville, Va., as a counter-protest to |
white supremacy demonstrations Aug. 11 and 12.
Meme Courtesy of a Facebook friend
By Cynthia Astle
St. Stephen UMC Communications Chair
The racially motivated violence that occurred Aug. 11-13 in Charlottesville, Va., poses a new challenge for the people of St. Stephen United Methodist Church. We are proud to say that our influence sparked the desegregation of the Mesquite Independent School District in the 1960s, but in the decades since our visible witness against America's history of slavery and oppression, specifically of African Americans, has slackened.
During the Aug. 13 Council meeting's open forum, those of us in leadership discussed the events of Charlottesville and what St. Stephen's response could be. In the brief time we had, we reaffirmed our commitment to resist the evil of racism (as we promised Sunday during the reception of new members), but we were not able to come to a plan of specific actions.
In hopes of informing and energizing more discussion in the near future, and in a spirit of prayer, I'd like to offer the following suggestions for our consideration. They come from an article written by the Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt serves as the Rueben Job Professor of Spirituality at United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and directs the Job Center for Spiritual Direction. An Episcopal priest, Fred is a friend and mentor of mine and the author of several excellent books, including "What God Wants for Your Life" and "The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times."
From Dr. Fred Schmidt via Facebook:
"Plainly and without question, both the hatred and prejudice expressed last night (Aug. 11) and the attack on counter-protesters today (Aug. 12) are murderous acts. Neither the words nor the actions of these self-styled supremacists are protected by the Constitution. Nor is there any way in which to justify behavior of this kind as even remotely 'Christian.' Indeed, the religious and patriotic patina wrapped around the rhetoric of this group is reminiscent of the entirely cynical manipulation of the Gospel by Adolf Hitler and his inner circle.
- We need to condemn actions of this kind without qualification.
- Do what we can to foster a climate in which such actions face collective resistance and condemnation.
- Build on the progress we have made in race relations.
- Recognize the places where healing has yet to take root and strive to do what we can to foster progress.
- Practice personal vigilance that opens our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit in places where our own attitudes and prejudices remain unredeemed.
- Stand alongside our brothers and sisters who are the victims of groups like this.
- Contradict, at every turn, the efforts of those groups to wrap their behavior in the mantle of the Church or the Constitution.
- And support the lawful prosecution of anyone who incites violence or commits murder in the name of any creed.
"As much as I appreciate the feelings that prompted the visceral reaction of Virginia's governor when he told the protesters in Charlottesville to "go home," in truth, this behavior should have no home among us."
In addition to Fred's suggestion, as Communications Chair I think it's important for St. Stephen folks to know that our resident bishop, Bishop Michael McKee, issued an episcopal letter over the weekend urging North Texas pastors and churches to stand up to the sin of white supremacy. You can read his letter here.